Chomsky Webcast to Net Extra Viewers
Gareth Edwards
Scotsman, March 19, 2005
A lecture in Edinburgh by world-renowned political commentator Noam Chomsky has proved so popular it is to be broadcast live on the internet.

The 76-year-old American academic will deliver the last in the Gifford Lecture series at Edinburgh University’s McEwan Hall on Tuesday, March 22.

The free-speech campaigner, most widely known for his political commentary and his criticism of American influence and activities overseas, will give a lecture entitled Illegal but Legitimate: a dubious doctrine for the times.

It deals with the danger of launching "legitimate" attacks on countries, even though it is accepted that the attacks are "illegal".

Originally the lecture was to be held in the George Square theatre, but unprecedented interest led to the organisers moving it to the 1300-seat hall.

However, even that was not enough to satisfy demand and now the university is to broadcast the event on the web.

While the request for tickets reached levels normally reserved for pop concerts, it should be no surprise that people are eager to hear what Mr Chomsky has to say.

He has produced so much work it is said that experts who visited Poland found Poles thought there were two Noam Chomsky’s at work in America - one in linguistics and one in politics.

His work in political commentary and linguistics has even been compared to the unravelling of the genetic code of DNA.

Principal and vice-chancellor of the University, Professor Timothy O’Shea, said: "We wanted as many people as possible to be able to experience the event and putting it on the internet makes this possible. This is an idea we hope to now deploy for many of the other important speakers who come to the university."

An outspoken critic of the war in Iraq, Mr Chomsky caused controversy with his views on the September 11 attacks, which he attributed to US foreign policy in the Middle East. He was invited to give the lecture following the death last year of fellow radical thinker Professor Edward Said, who had been scheduled to appear. The two men had worked together in the past.

Mr Chomsky is the latest high profile speaker to visit the university in recent months, following former Iraq weapons inspector Dr Hans Blix, US Federal reserve chairman Dr Alan Greenspan and even Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand.

And he has in fact sold out the McEwan hall twice in one day. Earlier on Tuesday he will give a talk to a public meeting of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

The talk, entitled The Fatal Triangle: The US, Israel & the Palestinians, will also be broadcast online and afterwards Mr Chomsky will answer some questions from the audience.

Ed Pybus of the SPSC said: "I think it is his understanding of politics, not just in America but all over the world, that makes him such a popular speaker."

The Gifford lecture is being held on Tuesday, March 22, at 5.15pm, and can be seen live online at www.ed.ac.uk/explore/video/chomsky.html

chomsky.info